Oscar Actors: Rush, Geoffrey–Background, Career, Awards (Cum Advantage, Triple Crown)

Updated July 8, 2020
Geoffrey Rush Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class:


Family: parents divorced when he was 5



Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut: Australia, 1971; age 20;

Broadway Debut: Exit the King, 2009; age 58

Film Debut: Hoodwink in 1981; age 30

Breakthrough Role: Shine

Oscar Role: Shine, 1996; age 45

Other Noms: two Supp. Actor, and one Best Actor Oscar noms

Other Awards: Triple Crown (Oscar, Emmy, Tony)

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:

Marriage: actress Jane Menelaus


Death: NA

Geoffrey Roy Rush AC (born 6 July 1951), the Australian actor, is amongst 24 people who have won the Triple Crown of Acting: an Oscar Award for film, a Primetime Emmy Award for television, and a Tony Award for theatre.

In film, he won an Academy Award for Shine (1996), and was nominated for his performances in Shakespeare in Love (1998), Quills (2000), and The King’s Speech (2010).

He is known for his role as Captain Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and has appeared in Elizabeth (1998), Les Miserables (1998), Frida (2001), Munich (2005), and The Book Thief (2013).

Rush got his start in the Australian stage before making his Broadway debut in “Exit the King” in 2009, where he received a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play his performance.

He played Peter Sellers in “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” (2004) on HBO, for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award, and as Albert Einstein in Genius (2017) on National Geographic.

Over his career he has won an Oscar, three British Academy Film Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and four Screen Actors Guild Awards. Rush is the founding president of the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts and was named the 2012 Australian of the Year.

Rush was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, the son of Merle (Bischof), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force. His father was of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry, and his mother was of German descent. His parents divorced when he was 5, and his mother subsequently took him to live with her parents in suburban Brisbane.

Before he began his acting career, Rush attended Everton Park State High School, and graduated from the University of Queensland with a bachelor’s degree in Arts. While at university, he was talent-spotted by Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) in Brisbane. Rush began his career with QTC in 1971, appearing in 17 productions.

In 1975, Rush went to Paris for two years and studied mime, movement and theatre at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, before resuming his stage career with QTC. In 1979, he shared an apartment with Mel Gibson for 4 months while they co-starred in a stage production of “Waiting for Godot.”

Rush made his theatre debut in the QTC’s production of Wrong Side of the Moon. He worked with the QTC for 4 years, appearing in classical plays and pantomime, from Juno and the Paycock to Hamlet on Ice.

Rush’s acting credits include William Shakespeare’s plays The Winter’s Tale (with the State Theatre Company of South Australia in 1987 at The Playhouse in Adelaide) and Troilus and Cressida (at the Old Museum Building in 1989). He also appeared in an ongoing production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest as John Worthing (Ernest) (in which his wife, Jane Menelaus, appeared as Gwendolen).

Rush made his film debut in the Australian film Hoodwink in 1981. His next film was Gillian Armstrong’s Starstruck, in 1982.

In the 1990s Rush appeared in small roles on TV, including the British television series Lovejoy. In 1994, Rush played Horatio in Hamlet alongside Richard Roxburgh, Jacqueline McKenzie and David Wenham in the Company B production at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney.

Rush made his film breakthrough with his performance in 1996 with Shine, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar. That same year, James L. Brooks flew him to Los Angeles to audition for the part of Simon Bishop in “As Good as It Gets” and offered him the role, but Rush declined, and it went to Greg Kinnear.

In 1998, Rush played the title role in the Beaumarchais play The Marriage of Figaro for the QTC. This was the opening production of the Optus Playhouse at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre at South Bank in Brisbane. A pun on Rush’s name (and the circumstances) was used in the opening prologue of the play with the comment that the “Optus Playhouse was opening with a Rush”.

In 1998, he appeared in 3 major films: Les Misérables, Elizabeth, and Shakespeare in Love. He received his second Best Supporting Actor nomination for the last film. In Les Miserables Rush played Javert opposite Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. In Elizabeth, Rush portrayed Sir Francis Walsingham alongside fellow Australian Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I. He received a British Academy Film Award nomination for his performance. In Shakespeare in Love, he played Philip Henslowe, a role Academy Award, British Academy Film Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

In 1999, Rush took the lead as Steven Price in the horror film House on Haunted Hill.

Rush at the Sydney premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in May 2011
In 2000, Rush starred in Philip Kaufman’s Quills where he played the Marquis de Sade alongside Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine. The film was written by playwright Doug Wright who adapted the film’s screenplay. Rush received widespread critical acclaim for his performance, for which h received his third Oscar nomination this time for Best Actor.

Rush’s career continued at a fast pace, with 9 films released from 2001 to 2003. In 2002, Rush played Leon Trotsky to Salma Hayek’s Frida Kahlo in Julie Taymor’s Frida.

Pirates of the Caribbean Film Series

In 2003 Rush voiced the role of Nigel the brown pelican in the Disney/Pixar animated film Finding Nemo. That same year starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, as Captain Hector Barbossa. The film was a massive financial success earning $654.3 million. Rush would continue to reprise the role in its sequels, Dead Man’s Chest (2006), At World’s End (2007), On Stranger Tides (2011) and Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

In 2003, Rush played Superintendent Francis Hare in Ned Kelly with Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts. That same year he also appeared in the Coen Brothers romantic comedy, Intolerable Cruelty alongside George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Rush reprised his character’s voice for the enhancements at the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions at the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom theme parks, which involved an audio-animatronic with Rush’s likeness being installed (including one at Tokyo Disneyland). He also voiced Nigel the pelican in Finding Nemo.

Rush played actor Peter Sellers in the HBO television film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. For this performance, he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.

In 2005, he appeared in Spielberg’s Munich as Ephraim, a Mossad agent.

In 2006, Rush hosted the Australian Film Institute Awards for the Nine Network. He was the master of ceremonies again at the 2007 AFI Awards.

Rush has appeared on stage for the Brisbane Arts Theatre and in many other theatre venues. He has also worked as a theatre director. In 2007, he starred as King Berenger in a production of Eugène Ionesco’s Exit the King at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne and Company B in Sydney, directed by Neil Armfield. For this performance, he received a Helpmann Award nomination for best male actor in a play.

In 2009, Rush appeared in a series of special edition postage stamps featuring some of Australia’s internationally recognized actors. He, Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe, and Nicole Kidman each appear twice in the series. Rush’s image is taken from Shine. He also appeared in the musical film Bran Nue Dae as Father Benedictus alongside Rocky McKenzie, Ernie Dingo, Jessica Mauboy, Missy Higgins, Deborah Mailman, Dan Sultan, and Magda Szubanski.

In 2009, Rush made his Broadway debut in a re-staging of Exit the King under Malthouse Theatre’s touring moniker Malthouse Melbourne and Company B Belvoir. This re-staging featured a new American cast including Susan Sarandon. The show opened on 26 March 2009 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. Rush won the Outer Critics Circle Award, Theatre World Award, Drama Desk Award, the Distinguished Performance Award from the Drama League Award and the 2009 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play.

In 2010, Rush returned to the stage, playing Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone on its Australian tour. That same year he also played speech therapist Lionel Logue in Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech alongside Colin Firth, and Helena Bonham Carter. The part that earned him a British Academy Film Award win and nominations for the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actor.

Rush returned as Captain Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp, in 2011. Rush is also preparing for a film version of The Drowsy Chaperone, an award-winning stage musical.[21] In addition, he voiced the alien Tomar-Re in the film adaptation of the Green Lantern comic book series.[22]

In 2011, Rush played the lead in a theatrical adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Diary of a Madman at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He won for this role the Helpmann Award and was nominated for the Drama Desk Award.

In 2011, Rush played the role of Lady Bracknell in the Melbourne Theatre Company production of The Importance of Being Earnest. Other actors from the 1988 production include Jane Menelaus, this time as Miss Prism, and Bob Hornery, who had played Canon Chasuble, as the two butlers.

In 2011, Rush made a cameo in a commercial, The Potato Peeler, for the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), playing a Polish farmer. He spoke his lines in Polish for the part.[26] In August 2011, Rush was appointed the foundation president of the newly formed Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts. He resigned from the post in December 2017 after Sydney Theatre Company announced they had received accusation of inappropriate behavior against him.[28]

In 2013, Rush appeared alongside Jim Sturgess in The Best Offer and also appeared in film version of the best-selling novel The Book Thief. Dennis Harvey, critics of Variety Magazine praised his performance writing, that “Rush generously provides the movie’s primary warmth and humor”.

In 2017, Rush starred in Stanley Tucci’s film Final Portrait alongside Armie Hammer. The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film received positive reviews from critics earning a 73% from Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, “Final Portrait finds writer-director Stanley Tucci patiently telling a quietly absorbing story, brought to life by a talented ensemble led by Geoffrey Rush and Armie Hammer.[30]

That same year, Rush starred as Albert Einstein in the first season of National Geographic’s limited anthology series Genius. The series was executive produced by Ron Howard and also starred Emily Watson. Rush won widespread acclaim earning a Primetime Emmy Award nomination as well as Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

In 2018, upon winning the Screen Actors Guild Award as Winston Churchill for Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman praised Rush as a “giant of acting” along with Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Richard Jenkins, and Denzel Washington.

Rush played the adult Michael Kingley in Storm Boy released on 17 January 2019.

Since 1988, Rush has been married to actress Jane Menelaus, with whom he has a daughter, Angelica (born 1993), and a son, James (born 1995). Rush lives in Melbourne, Australia, and spent several years in Castlemaine, Victoria